Simply do or die for Carlo Ancelotti?

Chelsea boss Carlo AncelottiAs the pressure mounts on manager Carlo Ancelotti after last weekend’s disappointing FA Cup exit at home at the hands of Everton, the Italian is thought by many to be clinging onto his job for dear life it does beg the question – does Ancelotti have to win the Champions League to serve a stay of execution come the end of the season?

Despite what John Terry may claim, Chelsea are well and truly out of the title race this season as they currently sit 12 points behind leaders Man Utd. Exits in the Carling Cup to Newcastle and in the FA Cup to Everton, both at home it’s worth noting, now leaves only the Champions League as a viable and attainable trophy to aim for this season. Ancelotti will be desperate to go deep into the competition as he faces questions over his long term future.

If truth be told, Ancelotti has been somewhat hard done by. He performed a miraculous feat last season by winning the double in his first full season as a manager in England, and with a squad not of his own making no less. It’s clear that Chelsea are a club on the wane and that they are going to have to go through a rebuilding process not too dissimilar to the one currently taking place at Liverpool if they are to truly challenge for the title again.

It is a strange turn of events whereby last season’s title winning manager currently finds himself under an inordinate amount of pressure. The current Chelsea side for all it’s power, currently possesses little in the way of craft or guile and it appears that they have been found wanting at times so far this season in the league.

Ancelotti isn’t to blame for any of the club’s current ills and I believe that they currently have the right man in charge. Expectations may have to be lowered for next season and until Ancelotti has fully been given time to assemble his own squad in his own image, it is difficult to judge him fully. The basis of this current Chelsea squad is still, even nearly four years after his acrimonious departure, in former manager Jose Mourinho’s image.

Ancelotti was brought in with the remit of delivering what every manager under Roman Abramovich’s ownership of the club has failed to do so far – win the Champions League. He won the trophy twice in 2003 and in 2007 with AC Milan and he has an exceptional record in the competition.

So far this season Chelsea have had a fairly easy ride in the competition. In the group stages they faced Spartak Moscow, Marseille and MSK Zilina. Despite losing away at Marseille, right in the middle of their terrible run of form, Chelsea qualified with 5 wins out of 6, scoring 14 goals in the process and conceding just 4.

It’s clear that bigger tests lie ahead of the club the further that they go in the competition, certainly more difficult than FC Kobenhavn, the Danish outfit they beat 2-0 in midweek, but their European adventures really do represent the final chance for Ancelotti to save the club’s season.

The manager received significant backing in the January transfer window with the big money arrivals of Fernando Torres and David Luiz and it appears that the penny may finally have dropped with Chairman Roman Abramovich, that the squad needs significant investment.

The significant backing he received in the transfer market would go some way to suggesting that Ancelotti may be given the necessary time to turn things around and that his future is safe for the foreseeable future. However, it’s worth noting that this show of faith was prior to their exit in the FA Cup against Everton and Abramovich‘s patience is said to be wearing thin.

A manager, even one as good as Ancelotti, can only do so much and should the club dispense with his services in the summer, a move that looks increasingly likely should they fail to trouble the latter stages of the Champions League, then the club may seriously come to regret it.

You do have to ask yourself though, if Chelsea do sack Ancelotti, what manager could they bring in that would do a better job under the circumstances than the Italian is already doing? You’d be hard pressed to find many better qualified than Ancelotti and the club need to back him through this difficult season.

The club needs an overhaul and that will take both time and patience. The Champions League may be their final chance at silverware this season, but Rome wasn’t built in a day as the old adage goes, and if the club are to have any chance of success in the future, then they would be wise to stick by the beleaguered Italian.
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